THE SIGN OF THE FOUR

Edward P Wallner - Sun, 2 Feb 1997

There are unfortunately no Queeries by Ralph Edwards for The Sign of Four. Those given here are suggested as a start on a suitable list.

  1. Why did Capt. Morstan stay at the Langham Hotel, described by Baedeker as "a great American resort"?
  2. Why did Mary Morstan have six pearls?
  3. Why was the letter from Thaddeus Sholto said to be post-marked "London, S.W."?
  4. How high were the ceilings in Pondicherry Lodge?
  5. What was the floor plan of Pondicherry Lodge and how were the grounds laid out?
  6. How did Holmes and Watson maneuver in a four foot high garret?
  7. Where was Pinchin Lane?
  8. How did Holmes know that it would be "a six-mile trudge"?
  9. Why did Holmes refer to "their eight-and-twenty hour start"?
  10. Since Watson saw Holmes leave in the a.m. "in rude sailor dress", why was he taken in when Holmes returned?
  11. What is the validity of Small's (and others') rationalizations as to the rightful owner of the Agra treasure?
  12. Is there any contradiction between Watson's "the day had been a dreary one, and a dense drizzly fog lay low upon the great city." and Jones's comment three days later that "It is very hot for the time of year."?

Chris Redmond - Fri, 1 Dec 1995

"Our quest does not appear to take us to very fashionable regions," says Sherlock Holmes. This tale is -- unlike many others in the Canon -- essentially about the middle class and the suburbs, rather than the older parts of London with which Sherlock Holmes is usually associated. What attitudes does it take?
"It is a romance!" cried Mrs. Forrester. "An injured lady, half a million in treasure, a black cannibal, and a wooden-legged ruffian." Is The Sign of the Four so well-loved by readers of Sherlock Holmes because of these exotic elements, or in spite of them?


Steve Clarkson - Fri, 22 May 1998

This Adventure has something for everyone: exotic locales; fierce Sikh warriors; a cannibal shooting poison darts; a bearded, one-legged villain; a fabulous treasure; secret hiding places; revenge; war; violent death; betrayal; and romance. It even has the Victorian version of a wild chase scene. Yet, at the end, Holmes seems to have been left out in terms of being given credit for his sleuthing or a reward for running the malefactors to ground...er, mire.
The Sepoy Mutiny (February 1857-July 1859) is thought to have been triggered by a seditious rumor. Opponents of the British rule circulated word that British rifle-cartridges had been dipped in pork tallow (the cartridges were paper and needed to be sealed in some way against dampness). Since the procedure for loading a musket entailed biting off the end of the paper cartridge, this was a monstrous affront to the devoutly Muslim Sepoys, who rose up in religious fervor. This Adventure provides a vivid depiction of the carnage and chaos that ran rampant in India for more than two years.
Against this background stands Jonathan Small, implacable Seeker of the Great Agra Treasure. In some ways, he has always reminded me of Long John Silver in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Small is a cunning, remorseless, peg-legged treasure-hunter who will stick at nothing to recover Achmet's jewel-chest and take revenge on the one who betrayed The Four.

Some thoughts (painful, but not fatal) which may be worthy of discussion come to mind:


Rosemary Michaud - Thu, 15 Jul 1999

Brad Keefauver - Thu, 14 Sep 2000


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